Amino Acids

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 1597–1608

Metabolism of select amino acids in bacteria from the pig small intestine

Original Article


This study investigated the metabolism of select amino acids (AA) in bacterial strains (Streptococcus sp., Escherichia coli and Klebsiella sp.) and mixed bacterial cultures derived from the jejunum and ileum of pigs. Cells were incubated at 37°C for 3 h in anaerobic media containing 0.5–5 mM select AA plus [U-14C]-labeled tracers to determine their decarboxylation and incorporation into bacterial protein. Results showed that all types of bacteria rapidly utilized glutamine, lysine, arginine and threonine. However, rates of the utilization of AA by pure cultures of E. coli and Klebsiella sp. were greater than those for mixed bacterial cultures or Streptococcus sp. The oxidation of lysine, threonine and arginine accounted for 10% of their utilization in these pure bacterial cultures, but values were either higher or lower in mixed bacterial cultures depending on AA, bacterial species and the gut segment (e.g., 15% for lysine in jejunal and ileal mixed bacteria; 5.5 and 0.3% for threonine in jejunal mixed bacteria and ileal mixed bacteria, respectively; and 20% for arginine in ileal mixed bacteria). Percentages of AA used for bacterial protein synthesis were 50–70% for leucine, 25% for threonine, proline and methionine, 15% for lysine and arginine and 10% for glutamine. These results indicate diverse metabolism of AA in small-intestinal bacteria in a species- and gut compartment-dependent manner. This diversity may contribute to AA homeostasis in the gut. The findings have important implications for both animal and human nutrition, as well as their health and well-beings.


Small intestine Amino acid metabolism Bacteria Metabolic fate Swine 



Amino acids


Nutritionally essential amino acids


Colony forming unit


Nutritionally nonessential amino acids


Short-chain fatty acid


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Gastrointestinal MicrobiologyNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Animal ScienceTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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